In 2016, AAVS Brussels developed a 10-day research workshop on the building of the European Parliament. The film director Luis Cerveró contributed on the development of a series of short films exploring the everyday spaces of the parliament. The objective was to investigate where resides the potential of the existing EU parliament building to represent the EU political community.
Find here two of the films produced and more information on the 2016 workshop:
This film addresses the integration of TV sets within the interstitial spaces of the EU Parliament building. It specifically looks at the TV set that stands opposite to the hemicycle in the core of the parliamentarian complex. It was specifically build to cover the Brexit referendum and thought as a temporary structure. Later, its success made the set stay there for an indefinite period of time. The relationship of the camera with space and the overlapped spatial requirements of mass media dispositive and regular parliamentarian activities makes of this place an intriguing case study within the parliament.
This film looks at circulation spaces within the EU Parliament building. At the present, there is a high quantity of space devoted to connect the numerous rooms and services of the complex. The great amount of people transiting through these spaces and their central position in the building makes of them a crucial element to the understanding of the parliament. The film explores how the internal movement of the inhabitants could potentially become an image of the dynamic working rhythm of the parliament.
The European Parliament building is not a single structure but a series of connected buildings that were organically developed at different stages. The overall composition of the complex doesn’t respond to a general plan or project, yet to the increasing need of squared meters and the consequent agreement between the institutions and real state agents. The physical presence of the parliament in the city doesn’t differ much from that of many other corporate buildings with glass and cladded stone façades.
The interior of the parliament is much more complex than the exterior reveals. There are standard office spaces, but there are also many transitional spaces and meeting rooms that function in a very particular way. The European Parliament building can gather up to 10.000 persons in a day of full activity. A great part of the political debates and negotiations doesn’t happen within the most well known scenarios, like the hemicycle or the offices, but in those interstitial spaces like the corridors, the halls, the bars, the piazzas, streets and bridges that connect the different parts of the buildings.
The short films produced in the 2016 workshop particularly explored the spaces that enacted the working mechanisms of the parliament. How the space was occupied and used, the rhythms of the activities and its performative dimension became crucial aspects of the analysis. It was an exercise of observation and documentation focusing on the aesthetics of its spatial performance rather than the compositional qualities of its tectonic elements.
2006 filming team working in the European Parliament.
Hidden behind the walls of the parliament, intricate and mutable relations shape the everyday political negotiations and institutional life: meetings happening simultaneously in multiple rooms, informal gatherings in the cafeterias and interior piazzas, live TV shows, encounters with lobby visitors and journalists in the interior streets, etc.
Façades are static elements that conceal the poetic dimension of the complex inhabitation flows of the building. Architectural elements traditionally used as representations of power –the column, the façade, the square, etc.- cannot transmit the dynamic condition of the new supranational institution. Although being present in the parliament building, these elements do not convey an understanding of the political body.
Moreover, many European citizens will never go to Brussels. They will never see the square in front of the parliament or the vaults that coronate the main building at first hand. Their experience of the parliament will be through canonical images of the hemicycle, the main façade or the press room that often appear in television or in the newspaper. These images, that represent a rather straitjacketed understanding of politics, have been proven to fail to generate affect in between the citizens.
The channels of audiovisual distribution have radically changed: from TV, printed press, postcards, books, and souvenirs, have moved into to a series of online multimedia platforms that generate new mechanisms of representation and self-identification. These new ways of consuming audiovisual material can potentially overcome the traditional limit between interior and exterior. The building can be reversed inside-out; everyone can virtually enter the former confined spaces of the parliament.
These observations provoke few initial questions: How can the complex functioning of supranational political bodies be spatially visualised? Which spatial dispositions can become forms of representation of the EU political community? How can architecture respond to multimedia and transnational channels of audiovisual distribution in relationship to institutional representation and communication strategies?
The present open questions will be taken as a departing point for the next workshop happening in September 2017.
Find here under images of the presentation of the results of 2016 edition in Greylight Projects.
We were very pleased to get the feedback on the projects from Stephen Clark, Director of the Directorate-General for Communication and Directorate for Relations with Citizens of the European Parliament, and George Pirson, Dean of La Cambre (ULB).
In 2016 a series of invited speakers/tutors from different disciplines helped to the define the theoretical framework for the investigation. We thank for their contribution: Luís Cerveró, Nicholas Hemeleers, Marina Otero, Veronique Patteeuw, Guillem Pons and Oriol Vilanova.
We also thank the filming and editing team:
Cinematographer: Elias M. Felix
Camera: Lluis Maymó, Carlos Rigo
Sound: Philippe Benoit
Editing: Dominique Rolin
Sound design: Sepher Malek
And finally, we would like to give special thanks to the European Parliament team and all those people that contributed to make the project possible: Jeroen Heuens, Wouter Huis, Eulàlia Martínez, Evita Naumova, Carlos Valverde.